Baby girl has lovely hair. Let's begin with that statement and work backwards.
For three months exactly I pored over 127 photos of Ariam and her hair asking myself these questions: is it spiraly? is it more puffy? is it going to grow out or will it grow down at some point? Is it a 3c or 4a or 4 b or 4 c? (She is type 4a.) Is it an L, O, I or S? (She's an O.)
Oh the hair obsession. It was something to focus my energy on.
I devoured Happy Girl Hair (although realized that without a child in front of me all lessons learned on that site were unabsorbed - had to go back and reread after Ari came home.)
I tentatively bought a couple of products to bring to Ethiopia with me but neglected to bring a comb or detangler for the 19 days we would be with her.
Headbands were practically purchased en masse.
In my daydreams I could braid and cornrow and create puffs by just watching one quick video online. In those daydreams I had a very still and very cooperative toddler. Hah!
We met Ariam. The days that we visited her at her orphanage she had very puffy combed out hair that was hard to assess. It was soft like a cloud. Immediately after her bath that soft puff coiled up on itself, began to knot and formed tiny pencil eraser coils. I sent off a panicked email requesting advice on detangling and that's when I found out that you actually need to have a comb and detangler (thick conditioner with slip to it) to detangle. Huh!
We have taken a hair journey. It's a journey we will be on for many many years together and one that I take very seriously. While hair doesn't define a person, it frames us for first impressions. So it's important.
I basically stalk blogs just looking for posts on hair so I can check and double check on our technique vs. other's techniques. So for those of you waiting for the hair details here they are:
We buy all Carol's Daughter. Because they sell it at Sephora. (Hi CD and Sephora - please send me some free products!) I would try other products and have even marked websites with things I want to order but when it comes down to it I want to be able to go to an actual store to sniff the products and put my fingers in them.
So - Carol's Daughter. But we never use Tui scented anything. It smells too grown up to me. Like my baby is going to head out on a date or something. Or like she's spending her days in my freshman year dorm room over enjoying the patchouli candle.
Every 3-4 days:
1. Bath (she likes this) without soap. J is perpelexed by this given his fetish for antibacterial anything. But her skin can't handle even mild baby soap without drying out. We're sort of playing around with oatmeal baths at this point which makes J crazy with worry over the idea of oatmeal stuck in her nether regions.
2. Wet down her hair in the bath (she hates this)
3. Wash and rinse with Head and Shoulders shampoo (yes, um, remember the trip to Children's Hospital we took on Monday because I was sure she had a scalp fungal infection? Dandruff. Oh yes, my baby has DANDRUFF. And it is U.G.L.Y. Please don't judge. I tried so so very hard and really things were looking so good for awhile.)
4. Giant glop of Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla smoothie conditioner (rub through hair and scalp, evenly distribute, finger detangle)
5. Scream for J to get his butt in the bathroom and hold down our daughter's squiggling screaming behind
6. Leave on for 5, then rinse well
7. NO TOWEL DRYING - leave hair to airdry in natural curl pattern
8. Spray with mix of water/Black Vanilla detangler AND then add another leave in conditioner (I have a couple of random samples of things I try or use Carol's Daughter hair milk)
9. Comb through hair while holding sections at the root and just combing ends, when detangled sort of fluff out with fingers
10. THIS IS THE BIG ONE Add pea sized amount of Carol's Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey
For me this has been a game changer. After I rub this through her hair the curls stay coily and shiny for at least 2 days without turning to fuzzy cloud fluff. Sometimes I wrap a few coils around my fingers and stretch them out to add depth and definition.
I never scrunch the hair or pull it. I never comb it when it's dry. I regularly trap her and gently rub in random things like shea butter, jojoba oil, or coconut oil when I see the hair looking or feeling brittle (usually after nap time.) I am sure there is a theory behind this and actual technique for adding oil to seal moisture. Need to look into that.
Whew. That's it. Well, plus a steroid ointment we have to put on her scalp until the dandruff chunks leave (almost gone!) and I left out the part where we have to rub 2 different kinds of steriod ointments on her neck and leg eczema. Add in a lot of wiggling, protesting and naked dashes through the house and you have the whole picture.
Some of the problems we've experienced and how we handled them:
1. Lack of definition to curls (see pool photo in my post below) has been mostly solved with the Mimosa Hair honey after the bath. To reactivate the curls the next day I just lightly fluff everything at the root with a wide tooth comb or my fingers spread apart, spritz with water/detangler combo and rub in a quarter sized glop of Hair Milk. Seems to do the trick.
2. Greasiness! A huge problem in the early days when I just kept dumping more and more product on the lack of definition. Some days her hair looked wet all day. Oops. Resolved by more/better product after hair washes but less on a daily morning basis.
3. Dandruff. Well apparently drug store shampoo is the answer.
4. Breakage. We are dealing with that now. When she wakes up we'll find on average two clumps of curls that stick out from the rest and can be gently pulled off. Has resulted in loss of all longer curls on the sides of her head where she sleeps. Highly textured black hair is the most fragile hair there is and most prone to damage. We are now trying to add Carol's Daughter hair elixer (quarter sized amount rubbed in my palms and rubbed into her hair) before bed every night. And I plan to start adding coconut oil on nights before shampoo days from now on. Both the elixer and coconut oil strengthen the hair shaft. So we'll see. So far today (following a night sleeping with the elixer on) she's had the best hair day she's had in a long time!
5. People thinking she's a boy. We are still encountering this particularly when her hair has been freshly washed and so is more tightly coiled and short looking. I solve this by adding her signature headbands. What can you do? Super annoying.
So far no puffs have been achieved. No cornrows have been practiced. I can't even get the child to sit still for her morning spritz and am chasing her around her room while she laughs at me. I think we will master hair health first and then move on to actual styling later. Like when she realizes how interesting Dora or Yo Gabba Gabba can be. Stillness people, we need stillness!
That is our hair dealy-o. It is very very important to me. I have never, not once, not even one day skipped hair routine. I feel like if I had to choose between going out in my pajamas for my day or letting Ariam go out for her day with slept on dried out looking hair I would definitely go out in my pajamas. Minus a bra even. Minus shoes. It just wouldn't happen. Hair. It is crucial to a child's sense of self, particularly growing up in a trans-racial family. I will never sacrifice her hair.
What do you do for hair? Any great tips out there?
- Me. Us. She.
- J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.
- ▼ September (6)